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Digital statistics

Digital statistics and predictions for South Africa in 2021

You can run, but you can’t hide. There is no escaping the fact that the world, including South Africa, is becoming more digital. If ever you (or someone you know) needed a push to pursue digital effectiveness and efficiency in life and business then read the digital statistics. They speak for themselves.

Making sense of South African digital statistics

According to Statista, the global number one business data platform, the digital population in South Africa is as follows:

  • 36.54 million active internet users
  • 34.93 million active mobile internet users
  • 22 million active social media users
  • 21.56 million active mobile social media users

Talkwalker puts these digital statistics into perspective for us: 36.54 million active internet users means that there is a 62% internet penetration rate in South Africa. Of the estimated population of 57 million, almost 40% are active social media users. By 2025, it is predicted that there will be 26.81 million social media users.

That is a lot of active online users, and we predict that those numbers will only keep climbing as the internet becomes more accessible and affordable. Is your business online yet? Does your website offer visitors an optimal experience no matter what device they are using (because no one has time for technical difficulties these days)? Does your brand have a social media presence?

So who exactly is on social media in South Africa? People aged 25-34 make up almost half of the social media users, whilst those aged 18-24 account for 40%. And they spend a lot of time using social media. Of the average 9 hours and 22 minutes spent on the internet, 3 hours and 10 minutes is spent on social media. So if your business is targeting those age groups then you should definitely have some sort of social media presence. But on which social media platforms will you find South Africans? Some of the most-used social media channels (as at January 2020) are WhatsApp (89%), YouTube (87%), Facebook (83%), Instagram (61%), Twitter (44%), Pinterest (42%) and LinkedIn (41%). Now, remember, you don’t need to be on all platforms as a business. Choose the ones that make sense for your brand. We predict that businesses are going to start getting savvier with how they make social media work for them. Perhaps a new era of social media influencing lies ahead.

Talkwalker also revealed the most visited websites in South Africa, and it’s perhaps no surprise that it’s So if you want to meet your target market where they are at then Google is where you need to be. That could be in the form of Google Ads, but we believe that SEO (search engine optimisation) is going to continue growing in importance. Our prediction is that organisations will start to see the long-term investment of valuable, well-written content for their websites. Some of the other top visited websites in South Africa include the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Netflix. Just something to think about if you are hoping to get your brand “out there”. We’re not necessarily talking about advertising here. We predict that brands will need to get smarter and smarter about how they make these platforms work for them, e.g. cross-promotions on Netflix.

Now we know everyone usually starts at Google, but what do they end up doing when they’re online? Datareportal, sharing the Hootsuite and wearesocial data report, highlights these popular online content activities amongst South African internet users aged 16-64:

  • 98% watch online videos
  • 47% watch vlogs
  • 71% listen to music streaming services
  • 44% listen to online radio stations
  • 38% listen to podcasts

There are a wealth of tips in these digital statistics for businesses. We predict that businesses will have to invest more in video in some form or another, whether it is video ads for online use, webinars or how-to videos. We predict businesses will not only focus on video, but perhaps on audio too – maybe an ad for an online radio station or music streaming service? And it might be an idea to look at engaging your market by doing a business podcast (if it works for your brand).

Something else people are doing a lot of online is shopping. According to Statista, there were 21.9 million users in South Africa in 2020, which was an increase of 1.6 million from 2019’s 20.3 million. By 2025, these numbers are expected to rise to 33.4 million. Revenue in the South African ecommerce market in 2020 amounted to R4.062 million and is expected to increase to R4.608 million this year. By 2025, online revenue is predicted to be as much as R6.305 million.

Ecommerce Guide explains that 51% of current online shoppers conduct purchases via their smartphones. We predict this number will definitely grow. What does this all mean for South African businesses? They have to have a mobile-friendly online presence and they have to start selling online.

The truth is that anyone can predict that digital is going to keep on expanding, social media is going to reach more people and online shopping is going to continue exploding. If your business responds now to these digital statistics then it will be easy to predict future success.

If you need assistance digitising your business, chat to us. We’re here to help businesses thrive in the digital world.

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Louise is the write woman to be the Marketing Manager at Flicker Leap.

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